Since the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter not even a decade ago, it has become common practice for people to share whatever they thought was interesting, relevant, or outright hilarious to their digital friends. The practice of digital sharing happens so frequently that we barely blink an eye when a friend sends us a new meme. So when President Trump decided to tweet the now-famous gif of himself tackling a WWE commentator, complete with a CNN logo photoshopped onto his head, he was partaking in one of America’s new favorite pastimes. Trump similarly defended himself by calling his twitter actions “modern-day presidential,” which is to a certain extent true. However, Trump is certainly not a normal American anymore, and his war with the media – especially CNN – is beneath the dignity of the Office of the Presidency.
Though I am not a personal fan of CNN’s take on the news a lot of the time, I have at least respected how professionally they had been handling Trump’s constant assault on their network up until their reaction to this gif. All CNN needed to do was denounce the President’s actions as disgraceful to the image of the U.S. and their own image would have been fine. Meanwhile, the President would look even more childish. They had the complete moral high ground over Trump; all the cards in their hands, but instead CNN journalists tracked down the creator of the gif, forced the man to write a pathetic apology to them and delete his Reddit account under the threat of having his name released to the public.
I was simply baffled that CNN decided this was in their best interest to do. Who in the ranks of the organization authorized their employees to waste valuable time on going after the creator of the gif. CNN proudly published a story detailing how they tracked the user down and included the man’s apology as if they had caught a terrorist. Worst of all: some genius thought it would be a smart idea to include in the article that CNN “reserves the right to release the man’s identity” if he continues his “ugly behavior” on the internet. That line screams blackmail, and just hours after the article was posted, hashtags of “CNN Blackmail” were flooding across social media. CNN’s actions make it seem as if they believed this individual was working directly for the President, feeding him content to tweet for his millions of followers. It doesn’t matter whether the guy is a horrible racist or a saint, he had nothing to do with Trump posting the gif to his Twitter and was in no way out of his legal bounds when making the gif.
Now rather than maintaining their dignity over the President and protecting their image as a trustful source of information, CNN has stooped to Trump’s level of immaturity and smeared their reputation with this ridiculous attack. It is no secret that CNN needs to appeal to liberal Americans to maintain their viewership and contend with its rival, Fox News, but this blackmail scandal has only turned more viewers away from them. As President Trump and the media continue their feud, the survival of CNN relies on not making mistakes like this again in the future.